Priming an EFI after running out of fuel?

A friend’s fuel injected Citroen Berlingo ran out of fuel yesterday. After he put a few gallons in the tank, it seemed fuel starved. Hidden in the owner’s guide were instructions for manually priming the fuel system, just like a 40 year old Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine. It gave priming instructions for both diesel and gasoline/petrol engines for the 2004 model.

I’ve owned or rented fuel injected cars and have run out of gas with them. I just had to try starting the car a few times to prime the fuel system. None of this pushing a mechanical pump thing on the engine. Somehow this just doesn’t seem right. Have I been unrealistically lulled into complacency by the 21st Century expectation for ease of use or is this van unusual?

That is unusual. Most fuel injected engines use electric pumps due to the higher pressure requirements. Carbureted engines take 16-20 PSI since they just have to fill the tanks on the carbs. Easily done with a mechanical pump mounted on the engine. Fuel Injected engines usually start around 60 PSI since that pressure is what makes them spray out of the injectors. Their pumps are usually found in the tanks to make it easy to start the pump flowing.

Citroen tends to do things a little different and it sounds like they decided to use a mechanical pump for some reason and those are found on the engines, the source of mechanical power in a car. I guess their pump design just doesn’t like to self prime so you have to do it manually.

Your pressures are way off.
Carburetor engines engines run no more than 5 PSI in my experience, and usually less than 3 PSI. I would need a cite for 16-20PSI. You would blow the top of the carb clean off with that kind of pressure.
Fuel injected engines car run all over the place. Many systems run fairly low pressures, say 35-45 PSI, other systems can and do run higher pressures. It all depends on the system.
Getting back to the OP, I have never seen a EFI system that required priming. Some older diesels were a stone bitch if you ran them dry to get fuel back to the injectors, but these systems really did not have a pump as such and relied on the suction of the injection pump.

Looks like I was off a little on the pressures. I was remember pressure specs on pumps that I drooled over in Jegs or Summit catalogs and they are pressures at the outlet, not pressures run at the fuel rails/carbs. Those pumps were meant to run with regulators on race motors.

Poking around a bit, the pressures on an old S10 Blazer with the Vortec V6 is around 50-60 on the rail. A Ford forum reports that the engine in a F150 runs at 42PSI exactly but the pump has a max pressure of 90PSI just to make sure it doesn’t drop on the rail.

You can prime most modern cars by cycling the key from off to on four or five times. Wait a few secs in on each time for the pump to finish its normal prestart run.

Thanks everyone. I’ll tell him he can stop beating himself up for not knowing this. We won’t be taking away his guy card. zlexiss, that’s what I’ve always done and it always works.

A mechanical pump you say, MarkofT? What an odd design choice in this day and age. I’m sure the boffins in Paris had some reason.